Ken Tucker
June 01, 2009 AT 03:11 PM EDT

Breaking Bad‘s tremendously satisfying season finale made both Bryan Cranston’s Walter and Aaron Paul’s Jesse pay for some of their sins, which in turn rewarded us as viewers. Only Breaking Bad could make last week’s scene of Walter allowing druggy Jane to die choking on her own vomit into an occasion to feel sorry for Walter, trapped as he was in his knowledge that, by letting Jane die, he rid himself of someone who could ruin his (and his family’s) life. But this week, the karma of realism bit Walter, as he inadvertantly (while under sedation) gave wife Skyler the info and ammo she needed, in sorrow and in anger, to later kick Walter out of the house for his lies — for the truths he cannot bring himself to tell her.

The subplot about Walt, Jr., his website to raise money for his dad, and the resulting media attention was poignant and funny (Walter’s tight grin of chagrin while the family picture was taken)… and kind of real: Go to and check it out. Proceeds go to the (for real) National Cancer Coalition.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Jonathan Banks (any old Wiseguy fans out there?) as the bluntly realistic clean-up guy who took care of Jane’s body in a chilling, black-humored scene.

And the season’s final episode paid off on the image that began the season: that pink-red stuffed animal floating in the pool, one eye disconnected and adrift. It was a bit of debris from the airline accident caused, we’re led to believe, by a distracted air-traffic controller… the father of dead Jane.

At this point in the series, creator Vince Gilligan is forcing us to face a hard question, for him and for us: How much longer does Walt’s original justification for cooking and selling meth — to provide for his family in the event of his cancer-death — remain an even remotely decent, moral reason to continue such lawlessness? His activities have brought about a lot of violence and suffering. This will be the great question hanging over next season, and I can’t wait to see how Breaking Bad addresses it.

In conclusion: fantastic season, Emmys for everybody all around, can we agree?

Did you watch the Breaking Bad finale? What did you think?

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